There’s a glimmer of hope!

It’s been a week since my last appointment with my care coordinator. I’ve found it a little hard at times not knowing I will be able to see her to have a chat about how I’m coping. I mean, I’ve been coping well, but the thoughts of so much is going on, and it didn’t help by numerous things – We completed 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, hanging out with friends on the beach, the Manchester attack, weight issues, and adopting a new pet.

You might think that there’s only one major issue there which would bring me down, but I struggled with 13 Reasons Why, mostly the last episode, because I knew at some point we would see ‘Hannah’ end her life. My wife held my hand throughout, asking if I was okay and various points of the episode, and whilst I say I’m okay, the thoughts inside my head kept harassing me. My brain wouldn’t stop playing that one scene, over and over it went. So many times I’ve had these thoughts, and yet I find it also traumatising to watch. It was uncomfortable. It was meant to be. I related to so much of the story, being victimised at school, name calling, rumours and more. If I had changed school, would I still have felt this way today? Probably. All those taunts have mental scars. People really don’t realise what they’re doing when they’re trying to be popular, and by doing so, it means targeting the ‘weak’ and making them feel bad. Sad. Very sad.

A few days ago, we went to the beach with a couple of friends. It was a really lovely day. It felt too good. It’s almost like, I’m not allowing myself to have fun here. I just feel as though I’m not good enough for the friendships, or that I’m on edge waiting for them to reject and abandon me. A year ago, we had more friends, and suddenly those friendships stopped, and we/I will never know why. I can only go by things my care coordinator has said to me, as well as what my other friends have said. I stupidly sent them a message on Facebook, but I don’t think they’ve got it/seen it, because they have me blocked. But I can only try to ask what I’ve done wrong. The agonising anxiety of doing something wrong and screwing up something which feels good is hard to deal with. I know I have to focus on the here and now, the present moment. I appreciate the friends I have now. I feel grateful and I feel supported. I feel as though my friendships are in the best place they’ve ever been. I just wish there was some way of letting my old friends know how well I’m doing now, and how different I am. Because I know I have changed, and the friends I’ve made through therapy have seen that change, so for that – I am relieved and I am proud. It’s hard to feel optimistic and have good self-esteem most days, but I’m really trying to make things okay.

The Manchester attack on Monday has really got to me. It’s got to the entire country, and most parts of the world. I just feel so vulnerable, and that makes me feel selfish. I feel so sad for those who lost their lives, so young, and I feel sad for those who were injured. I feel sad for the friends and families who lost a loved one, who’s lives have been ruined because of this traumatic event. It makes you put things into perspective. I mean, you can’t stop doing things, because you can’t show you’re afraid. You can’t stop enjoying yourself, but jeez, it certainly heightens the anxiety! The forces are stepping up and we’re on critical alert. We have to stand together and show we are not afraid. It makes me feel grateful for the life I have, because no matter what I’ve gone through thus far, I cannot imagine the aftermath of dealing with a traumatic event like this. So many young people, children, scarred for life. PTSD is experienced through many different ways. I developed it due to the attacks from my brother. I feel sick whenever the images come into my head, and I feel scared when I’m at my Dads house, despite him not living there, and despite my Dad having decorated and changed the layout, I can still picture everything as it was. Traumatic events scar us, and we have to learn to live with it. These families and young children have to learn to deal with it because they went out to enjoy themselves and the night ended in heartbreak, heart ache and fear. I really hope that every surviving attendee of the event get the support they need. We need to show that we are not afraid! We are not afraid and we will not be beaten!

Eurgh, here we go with the weight issues. I’m at a “healthy” weight, but I know I could do with losing a few pounds. It seems as though everyone on my Facebook is on some sort of diet. The majority are on Slimming World. I don’t think I could do that because I don’t need to lose a lot, but in my head I’m starting to think I do. I weigh myself, and although the first week was okay. I haven’t lost anything since, yet everyone around me seems to be losing something. Now, everyone knows I’m quite a competitive person, so I’m anxious this is going to trigger past issues for me. I’m wanting to lose weight healthily but I’m worried that the thoughts are getting too much that I’m going to repeat past experiences. I can’t get to that point, so I am trying so hard to fight it. It’s really hard. I mean, I have trouble losing weight because of the medication I’m on, so I’m thinking about reducing them again, but then I know I need them. It’s a catch 22. I lose weight and get sick because I’m not on anything, or I start on medication, and get sick because I can’t deal with the weight issues. I’m healthy! I really need to get this into my head! Everyone I know has said to me how much healthier I look now, compared to last year, compared to my time during therapy. My weight fluctuates a lot, so you’d think I’d be used to it. But I’m not. I have an appointment at the hospital next week because of my digestive problems. So that might find a cause for not being able to lose weight too, but then, it might not. I’m so nervous about the appointment. I’m worried I’ve caused damage from my past experiences of laxative abuse, and I’m worried that there’s something seriously wrong. Silly thing is, I tell all my friends not to worry about the “what ifs” because they are only “what ifs” and there’s no point worrying about the unknown because it might be completely wrong. So, I guess.. No, wait… I know I need to work on this issue. I need to make sure my wife and friends are supporting me, and they are aware of  the past issues, and that they too are all trying to lose weight, and that for me it could be/it is, a trigger for me needing to lose weight too.

Okay, and finally…

We have a new pet!

Meet Jack! FullSizeRender

We adopted him from the RSPCA as a companion for our cat Sally.

Sally gets very anxious when we go out. She’s ripped our new carpet by the front door because she’s wanting us to be home. Our other cats just get on with things, and Sally just wants fuss and cuddles. Upon meeting Jack (was Stanley), he cuddled up to us and was very loving. We knew he would be perfect for Sally.

We’ve had him since Tuesday, and all the cats are still trying to get used to the idea. Jack likes to hide under the spare bed, so we try and coax him out so he gets used to us. We’re getting there, but we know he’s more of a night owl!

He’s probably the only point I’ve made which hasn’t made me feel down about things. I love my pets to pieces. We are so lucky to have the fur babies we have because each one of them loves us in return. They are so incredibly loving and love their cuddles and playtime. Even Evie, our hamster!

I guess, from this post I’m trying to say that although there is so much dark, fear and anxiety, there are also glimmers of hope, love and support.

I have that in my life, which makes me a very lucky person.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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The last meeting.

So that’s it.

Yesterday morning I had my last meeting with my care coordinator. Pretty scary stuff. I’m excited but anxious at the same time for being discharged from the mental health services. Perhaps because my last meeting also included stuff I should have said months, if not years ago to attempt to work through. But then, it’s perhaps stuff I wasn’t yet ready to work through until now, when it almost feels too late.

Maybe I needed to go through all my therapies in order to get to where I am now, to be able to speak with clarity about things which have happened. Perhaps not everything, but the issues I’ve recently been having to deal with and battle in my mind.

I wasn’t ready in the past, and I’ve only become ready to talk about things since it was prompted by an accusation made by my brother. Sometimes we need these things to trigger off the memories, to analyse and rethink the situations.

I was a young, vulnerable teenager, and I was taken advantage of – Like many. But there were then a lot of other issues which caused things to just build up on top of each other.

My last session with my care coordinator started off well. The excitement of how well we’ve settled into our new home, the possibility of us adopting a new pet, and recent achievements which I actually feel proud to have done.
And then the mood changes. I go from smiling and talking fast, to trying my best not to cry. Laughing at the fact I’m “not going to cry”, despite the tears rolling down my face. I’ve realised I’ve just mentioned something I’ve not told anyone before. And it’s to my care coordinator who I’m not going to see again. Maybe that was why. Maybe I needed there to be a final message about why I feel I still need help. She wondered if there were support groups for this sort of thing… I’m talking about online grooming, online explotation. Something which I feel considerably vulnerable towards after having experienced it as a teenager. Something which still happens to so many children and it’s something which creates intense anxieties that are difficult to overcome.

I need to work on it, I know. But I also realise that what is done, is done. It’s in the past, and although I can push the thoughts back in my mind whilst I try and enjoy life, knowing that what’s done is done and I can’t change anything. All I can do is work on the anxieties it’s created, such as what information is out there, and what will or could potentially come back to haunt me – although I realise the likelihood of this happening is also very unlikely! It doesn’t stop the thoughts though, and it doesn’t stop the worries.

My last meeting with my care coordinator was an interesting one. Not quite how I imagined it would go.

I had spent days thinking about what I should wear, how I should have my hair, which pair of glasses I should wear, should I make a card or buy one? And so much more. I realise I was worrying so much about this, that in the end, it didn’t really matter. What mattered was the fact I had come so far in my time in the secondary mental health services. I was grateful for all the support I had been given, and the chances I had been given. I threw many tantrums at the beginning, and cried all the time. Although I still have my tears, they’re not as frequent as they used to be! And for that, I am relieved.

I made a card for my care coordinator to say thank you. I posted a photo of it in a support group on Facebook to make sure what I’d written was okay. It seemed to be.

Thank you for all the support you have given me over the past 6 years. Thank you for putting me through the STEPPS and Stairways programmes as well as the therapeutic community. Thank you for listening to me and putting up with the tears and tantrums! I’ve learnt a lot and am still learning and finding myself and my voice, and I have a goal I want to achieve and focus on, in animal-assisted therapy. It’s a long time since I’ve felt almost positive about things and I know and recognise how far I’ve come and I couldn’t have done it without your support. Thank you…

I was then brave enough to put a post up for my friends and family about being discharged.

So, some of you know this but most of you don’t.

I’ve been under the mental health services for 6 or so years. Having struggled with depression and anxiety since my early teens, EDNOS and being diagnosed with PTSD and then BPD in my early 20s, things, well they haven’t been easy.

I’ve been through counselling which didn’t do much for me, so I was then referred to [mental health services], and assigned a care co-ordinator who supported me, at first weekly, then fortnightly and then monthly. She also put me on course designed for personality disorders, called Stepps and the second programme Stairways.
I was also given Employment Support and Benefit Support from the services. It was the Employment Support which helped me with my studies when I decided to work with animals and do home study, as I could meet up regularly with someone who would just sit with me and make sure I focused on work and not got distracted!

After completing the stepps/stairways programmes, I wasn’t exactly where they hoped I’d be, although I did learn a lot from it. So, I was then referred to [the] Therapeutic Community, for PD.

I spent 3 days a week for a year there, and then one morning a week for what would have been 18months, had I’d not felt like I was going backwards.

I left the morning group, called leavers, about a year into it, and have since been working on coursework, craft fairs and focusing on recovery.

I’m not cured but I’m better.
I have a lot more self control and I don’t cry every day. I still have my certain triggers, but I’m aware of them and can see if a situation could be difficult for me and what to do if that were to happen.

So, anyway, the reason I’m writing this is because today I had my last meeting with my care coordinator and I’ve been referred to a group called ‘Moving On’, which will be an 8 week course which will give me advice and support in what happens after leaving the mental health services.

Yup, it’s official! I’m being discharged!!

It’s exciting, but scary and also overwhelming. I’ve come a long way and although I’m still on medication, I’m not ashamed.

I cope with things better, and I’m not having to deal with the urge to harm myself, and there will are are still times where I feel it but I know how to manage those feelings and cope with things in a safe way.

I’m working towards being an animal-assisted psychotherapist.

My baby bunny Michael was my best friend for the few months he lived and then Frank become my amazing, fantastic bunny, who knew how to comfort me and make me feel safe.

It was then the psychotherapy from [the therapeutic community], which had writing and art therapy, along with drama therapy and the obvious, talking therapy, which I think has finally helped me, and I now speak with a lot more clarity in how I feel and I’m a lot more open about things instead of withdrawing and closing in on myself. I think it’s taken a while to realise this in myself because I do still have depression, anxiety and a personality disorder, I’m just learning… and I will always be learning and developing and just making a better and more happy Erica. At least, that what I keep telling myself!

Scary times… The mental health services will be there if ever I need them again after being discharged. I can also self-refer through a new process, which apparently makes it quicker.

Hopefully I won’t need them though, and instead I will be running workshops for them!

I know that there may be slip ups here and there, but I know that’s okay. So I will do my best in getting through them!!

And finally, I know I also couldn’t have got through it all without the love and support of my close friends, some family and my wife! So I am very, very grateful!

I’m sure there would have been more to add and more I could say! But I’ll leave it here as I appreciate this is quite the essay!

I’ve had a few responses to the post, and it’s really helped me.

I know I’m not cured. Even my care coordinator said that just becuse I’m being discharged, it doesn’t mean I’m cured.

I’m better at handling things now. I have found an outlet – things like this blog to help gather my thoughts and feelings. I’m a lot more open with my friends and family instead of internalising it all.

I still have issues with self identity and who I am, but I know what I want to do, which I guess can be a step in the right direction to finding out who I am.

I appreciate this has been a long post, so I’ll leave it there. I don’t know if I’m just trying to avoid the feelings of being discharged by focusing on things I’ve done. It might be that more feelings hit me along the way….

I now have to wait for a phone call about a “moving on” course, to prepare me for the discharge, so maybe that’s when it will all sink in…

For now, I’ll keep on repeating to myself how well I’ve done and how far I’ve come!

Thanks for reading, x

Review: Fidgets!

Today I’m going to write up something different.

After purchasing a few different items to attempt to prevent the dermatillomania/skin picking disorder developed through anxiety, I decided it would be a good idea to review them, and let you know what I’ve found most beneficial to me.
My skin picking consists of me picking at the skin UNDERNEATH the finger nails, most particularly my thumbs and index fingers. They get incredibly sore, opening up wounds which affect the nerve ending causing extreme pain. It’s something I have tried to stop, but I do it in my sleep too so I’m still working through different ideas to prevent this from continuously happening. I get to the point where it’s healthy, and then I start again – and it’s not through choice. I would rather not do this! I’d often have to wear finger bandages to stop me, or wear fake plastic nails which were too soft for me to do this. My GP suggested I tried using vaseline, but the thought of having something underneath my nails makes me cringe even more!

So, first things first – The fidget has been around for some time, since the 1990’s. It was designed to help those with anxiety, autism and other behavioural conditions. It has been proven to help concentration, but it can also be a distraction! It’s most recently become a craze and has entered work places and schools for being the “must have” stress reliever/toys. So much so that in some/most schools they’ve been banned from the classroom! (Except for those who genuinely need them for their behavioural/mental health issues)

IMG_2288I picked up the fidget cube and the fidget spinner to see which would work best, and due to my fibromyalgia, it was evident that the fidget spinner would be something I couldn’t use. The way you have to hold it caused my thumb and index finger pain. I have recurrent tenosynovitis as a symptom of my fibro, in my left wrist/thumb so that’s probably why it was not the best fidget for me.

IMG_2289The cube however is small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, and for the first couple of nights I even slept, holding it in my hand that I even woke up with it still in my hand in the morning. It shows that it helped take the urge from picking into the urge of holding/playing with the different sides of the cube. I like the cube because it has the 6 sides with various fidgets. Such as a light switch button, ballbearing and rolling lock-type feature, a spinner, buttons and joystick. My favourite sides are the ballbearing and the light switch. Although, the light switch sound can be annoying if you’re wanting something silent!

I have found that although the cube worked, there was one more fidget I wanted to try, and that I’d considered getting for ages, and that was a spinning ring. Although. not part of the craze, I thought it would be best to see if it was something which would work for me.

A friend of mine was selling some on his Etsy account, along with other jewellery items which were handmade in Kathmandu, Nepal. They were purchased by his beautiful late partner after she wanted to help the villagers establish their business. So she brought the lot to help them out and together they started to sell at fairs and online.
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I asked him to choose one for me, along with another ring, and he chose me a beautiful turquoise one. After a day/night of wearing it, I noticed a piece was missing, which was gutting because I wasn’t too sure where the missing part went. My friend kindly sent me a replacement, but not one which was made in segments, but this time an “Ohm” design, which has actually worked out rather well, as it has two different textures from smooth on one side of the ring and the pattern on the other.
IMG_2290
I find that wearing the ring on my thumb allows me to be more discreet than carrying what potentially now looks like you’ve got it because it’s a trend. It’s helped me but slowly repairing the skin under and around my thumb nail and I’m hoping that once healed, when I have the urges to pick, I can spin the ring instead, and not cause any more damage.

My conclusion of the fidgets are that, although they are currently a craze, a fad, or trend, that they do work to some extent. But the best thing for me has been the spinning ring.
It means that I’m able to wear it all the time and it looks smarter, and certainly more professional than holding a fidget cube in your hand.

I do however appreciate the fact that whilst some thing work for others, they’re not guaranteed to help everyone.

I can only speak from experience of trying several different things to help me through the anxiety.

That’s all for now!

Thank you for reading.

Fatigue.

The worst part about fatigue is the inability to focus. Your eyes just want to close and stay shut, no matter how hard you try to keep them open. Your body feels weak, floppy and heavy. You can’t function, and you feel worthless and useless. You become more and more depressed, and sometimes feel suicidal because you just can’t cope with the pain that goes with the fatigue. You feel like a complete waste of space, and that you’re wasting your life away. It’s not your fault though. Even typing things out, like this short piece can feel like forever. The brain fog means you’re forever correcting typos and editing via backspace. You want to crawl under your duvet and retreat. Not wanting to wake up again until all the pain and fatigue has gone away, except, you know that more sleep is likely going to do worse and give you more headaches, neck pain, back pain and more. You just can’t focus and you feel so weak, and you have to give in to the sleep and try your best to rest…

Being ignored!

FYI, I’m still aware of my To-Do list, I haven’t forgotten… In fact, I’m about to check off another one. Let’s go to point 2, as it’ll be a short one…!

  1. Being blamed for something you haven’t done ✔
  2. Being ignored, and yet you keep trying to get a response
  3. How my mental health affects me (maybe combined with 4!)
  4. How my physical health affects me (maybe combined with 3!)
  5. review for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time!✔

Being ignored is one of my triggers. It infuriates me, makes me feel so angry and annoyed and yet I still try my best to make contact.

It almost becomes something like a punishment to me. I mean, why do I persistently try and contact someone, knowing it’s unlikely I will get a response?!

For example, I fell out with someone a few years ago now, but I would like to reconnect. I’d hope that both of us would have grown up a bit, and we can move on from things that happened/got said, and not necessarily be best buddies, but at least be talking to one another. We follow each other on Twitter, but we’re not friends on Facebook (although I’ve sent friend request, cancelled it and then sent it again!), or any other social media platform. I’ve sent several messages, and even a couple of photos via the direct message feature, and yet I’m not getting anywhere.

You may wonder, why bother? Well, I do ask myself this, but I guess it’s because I’ve learnt a lot over the past few years, and I want to rectify things and give my support and understanding over things that have been said or happened.

Another situation has been where I recently messaged a couple of people who have cut all contact with me, of which I have no known reason for this happening. I messaged them to ask what it is I’ve apparently done. But of course, neither have responded.

I find myself checking if these people have been online, and wonder why I’m not getting any response. I guess it’s the worry and anxiety of what have I done, and the feeling of abandonment which hits me so much. The feeling of rejection and the fear of loneliness. Which are all ridiculous because I have a lot of lovely people in my life, all of whom I’m very lucky to know. I guess it’s just the BPD.

I don’t think this is just me who feels this way though?
Do you have issues with people ignoring/not contacting you?

Please tell me I’m not the only one!?

Thank you for reading x

Being ignored, and yet you keep trying to get a response ✔ (YES!)

It’s official…

… I’m being discharged!

Now, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this.

I had a meeting with my care co-ordinator and Lauren yesterday, after my care co-ordinator contacted me and suggested Lauren join us for the meeting, and we discussed the options for what happens after she leaves.

It was obvious that I wouldn’t be given a new CPN straight away, as I know many people who have waited months for one, especially during my time at the therapeutic community and after.

So it seemed that the easiest thing for her to do would be to discharge me. She feels I am ready to give it a go… I mean, it’s been 6 or so years that I have been under the mental health services, (CMHT). And during that time, I’ve attended STEPPS, Stairways, a year long therapeutic community and 18 month (near enough) leavers group, as well as attending many CPN appointments, sessions with employment support and more.

All in all, I’ve been one of the lucky ones to get the support I have done. I know there are many people who fall through the net and don’t get the supprt they need.

Of course, there were some things I asked for support with, such as my issues around food and weight, but to get any support through the eating disorder service, you have to have a very low BMI, and I, at the time of asking was a little bit OVER the suggested BMI, so I queried the fact I would have to get even sicker than I already was/felt. I think this is where the services need to be worked on/improved as not only though with a low BMI have difficulty with their weight/food issues, and that any eating disorder can be fatal. Then, during my time at the therapeutic community my weight continued to fluctuate. My eating issues were put down to BPD and how I cope with certain situations. I tried to argue, but I think that I just had to give in and agree to disagree. My weight is still an issue, despite me being “healthy” and “stable” for some time now. So, it’s something I continue to work on.

I was also suggested CAT therapy, so with the seed planted, it was something I wanted to do. Except I was failed to be told that the therapist had left, so I was unable to receive this sort of treatment. Maybe it’s for the best? Who wants to relieve the past and work out where and why things went wrong?! Well, me really. After recent events, it’s been more of a reason for me to want to explore the past, despite how difficult this may be.

Anyway, during the meeting it seemed as though it was the right thing for me to go ahead with the discharge, but not as immediately as I first thought. I assumed I’d be discharged there and then, and it was that reason why I was anxious for the meeting to go ahead in the first place. Instead, it was suggested that I attend a “Moving On” group, which runs weekly for 8 weeks and focuses primarily on the discharge needs, which help with planning and solving problems after discharge. It will work on things such as aftercare, employment, medication, the fear of failure and more. If anything, it was – it IS something I need, to help me adjust to the thought of being discharged.

I said that, despite the fact we saw each other every 3 weeks to a month, it was the knowing she was there for me to contact, if ever I needed her. My care co-ordinator mentioned something which was said by another patient, which is that it’s like waiting in A&E just incase you have an accident. Except, A&E will always be there, so it’s best to try living outside the waiting room, and if anything happens, then you can always go back.

Basically, in regards to being discharged, the process is apparently quicker to gain access to the MH services through a single point of access service. So I wouldn’t need to go to my GP and wait for a referral again, I’d simply be able to self-refer. Although, I do doubt how much quicker that would actually be!

So other that that, that’s it! Now, I wait. I get to see my care co-ordinator one last time before she leaves, and then I will get a call from the person who runs the group to arrange for me to start, which is quite scary.

I’m trying to get my life in order because I feel as though I’m too far behind from where I feel I’m supposed to be, especially in regards to my studies. I mean, one course might not have a deadline, but the two others I’m doing, I believe I have 2 years to complete, and what is scary is that time is running out, with only 8 months to go!

I think I need a plan, but to work on it weekly rather than set myself a goal to achieve by a month or so. I need to learn not to put too much pressure on myself, but to also give myself a kick up the butt for getting on with things. I have a lot of lack of motivation, but at the same time, I have a lot of hope for what I want to be able to achieve.

I need to complete my work in order for me to have the career I want, and that needs dedication and persistence. I need to continue my work and just get on with it. Heck, I tell myself this all the time, but end up caught in a vicious cycle of “blah!”

I guess only time will tell how I cope without the mental health services.

Thanks for reading and support my blog.

If you’re interested in reading more, please follow and check out my Twitter feed here: @ghostwithinme

Thank you!

x